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Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup Final blog: Ian Cole

Penguins defenseman talks about playoff beards, getting ready for Game 3 in Nashville

by Ian Cole / Special to

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole will be keeping his own blog throughout the course of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators. Cole will check in regularly with behind-the-scenes access.

Cole, 28, is in his second full season with the Penguins. They acquired him in a trade from the St. Louis Blues on March 2, 2015. He won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins last season and played in 81 games, scoring 26 points, this season.

Here is Cole's third entry, after practice Friday and before the Penguins traveled to Nashville for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday:

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- I'm going to touch on going to Nashville and getting ready to play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in this blog, but first let's talk about tradition.

The playoff beard. Or, in my case, the playoff beard I've been growing since January.

People love talking about playoff beards at this time of year. So let me tell you about mine. But, beware, this is not going to be pretty.

I usually have some scruff year-round, but this is the first time I've grown a legit beard. I did it last year for the playoffs too, but this one I have had going for six months now. I have not trimmed it. I'm just letting it grow au naturel. I may one day take a brush and try to brush it out to see how long I can really get it.

I really like the mustache, actually. I should wax it and get it going like a handlebar mustache. Wouldn't that be an interesting look with all this scruff on my face too.

Here is the problem with the beard: When I'm trying to eat, food is constantly in my mustache and in my beard. That part gets pretty annoying. Any kind of liquid, it just sucks it up like a sponge, sits in there and marinates.

But the worst thing that gets stuck in there are boogers. I know, gross, right?

You sneeze and you're like wiping snot out of your mustache. You have to go splash some water on it and rinse it out. It's a real hardship.

I'm kidding.

OK, so now how do we segue out of that? The off day. That's how.

We had an off day away from the rink on Thursday. Mine was not all that glamorous. I treat off days as the days to get errands done, so after sleeping in late because it's hard for me to get to sleep after a game, I went to the dry cleaners and got my car washed. Exciting stuff, I know.

I also went to the cobbler. Yes, the cobbler. I mean the shoe repairman, but I prefer to call him the cobbler. That's the proper name. I wore out the inside leather of the back of one of my boots, on the heels. It was starting to wear through so I had to get a new piece of leather put in.

Then my wife and I went to dinner and to see "Baywatch." It was horrendous, a terrible movie. I like the actors in it, but, yeah, not a good movie. It didn't matter. It was doing something to pass the time until the next game, until you can go play again.

And now, about playing again.

Nashville. Bridgestone Arena. It'll be loud in there Saturday night.

I spent a lot of time there during five years playing for the St. Louis Blues, and you can easily see how passionate their fans are for hockey and for the Predators. We know it's going to be a loud building, a very energetic building. Everyone here is really excited to experience that.

We all think it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere, but we can't be intimidated by the noise. You have to have some fun with it. That's what we've done a great job of so far this year wherever we have played.

Remember, noise is not something that is intimidating or something we are scared of. No one on this team has sensitive ears. It'll be a tough building to play in for sure, but everyone is more excited than fearful.

As for the series: We're thrilled to be up 2-0, but we know we can be better.

I definitely think we can be cleaner coming out of our end and hold onto pucks more in the offensive zone. We can get more shots, but they do a good job of blocking shots and getting into layers. If there isn't a shot lane maybe we need to find sticks off the side or use the end boards.

It's not one thing that is the key to two more wins, but I definitely there are ways to improve our game. The constants are high desperation level and winning puck battles.

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